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Diversity Art and Tolerance Art

Some may remember the fresco that Diego Rivera painted on commission for the Rockefeller family in 1933, which was completely destroyed in 1934 as it depicted Trotsky, Marx, Lenin and other communist figures right in the very heart of the temple of capitalism: the Rockefeller Center. This incident remains a significant example of intolerance in the history of art, but also one of bold artistic commitment. 

Art is unfortunately not exempt from the discrimination that is prevalent in Western society. The scarcity of female artists presented at FIAC was disguised by the presentation of a few female 'stars', almost, but not quite, enough to make us forget their under-representation in the exhibitions. This issue is also highly prevalent at other artistic events, such as the Avignon Festival, which in 2018 was criticized for its poor representation of female directors.

Beyond this, a real cultural barrier exists in the understanding, acceptance and promotion of certain artists, particularly artists of African descent, and all the more so when they find themselves at the intersection of several minority groups: of race, gender or sexual orientation. The artists concerned are at the heart of issues surrounding cultural diversity and diverging creative perspectives. This is the case, for example, for Estelle Prudent, whose work, too often invisible, led to an exhibition being vandalized in Paris in 2018. Similarly, this is an issue faced by Samuel Cueto, whose photographs highlight queer, transgender and tattooed subjects in disreputable, underground environments in the suburbs of major Thai cities.

The militant commitment of these artists, combined with their obvious passion for their work, means these types of artistic projects are now increasingly being brought to the forefront of the contemporary art scene.

This is where art bears a responsibility. More than any other medium, visual art is a force for representation and the proposal of new aesthetic values and cultural references.

The power of contemporary art, and particularly photography, is to take into account both the artist and the subject. The mutual creation that emerges in an image is the result of a collaboration, or even a clash, between the artist's vision and that of the model. This is particularly striking in the photos of Marco Antonio Calvacanti, Lee Jeffries or James Sparshatt

Finally, art is a way of normalizing unorthodox images that tackle society's prejudices. A veiled woman smoking a cigarette, a shirtless nun, a couple of octogenarian lovers or an old lady casually smoking a cigar: all images that break taboos in a society still restricted by outdated conventions. Secularism, the abolition of stereotypes and the promotion of living together in harmony are subjects that artists can and must legitimately address. Their freedom of expression and experience of shared otherness are sources of inspiration for building a more just, tolerant and enlightened society.


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